Koga (Japon): Treasure trove of artifacts points to early exchanges with Korea

Akihiko Magoori

Source - http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201602160041?

KogaThe artifacts shown at the Koga city office in Fukuoka Prefecture point to a high level of craftsmanship. The pieces below are replicas created by a 3-D printer. (Akihiko Magoori)

Ornaments used to decorate a warhorse about 1,400 years ago were found to be embedded with glass, not seashells as initially believed, in a tomb here.

The artifacts indicate the occupant of the tomb was of very high rank and had strong links to a kingdom in Korea.

The glass-inset metal accessories decorated the reins and other leather gear to keep the rider mounted.

The city’s board of education, which oversees historical sites in Koga, announced last month that nine such items were discovered in the city's Funabaru tomb.

Similar exquisite ornamentation previously has been found in a tomb from the Silla kingdom in Korea that lasted from 57 B.C. to 935.

It shows that the person buried was of high-rank,” said Tadashi Nishitani, professor emeritus of archaeology with Kyushu University. “It will likely stimulate debate over exchanges with Silla.”

The artifacts were discovered in a pit. The tomb dates from the late sixth century to early seventh century.

Dome-shaped pieces of glass measuring 4.5 centimeters each were inset in gilt bronze mountings.

Since they are white, archaeologists initially believed that they were fashioned from cone shells.

But a recent fluorescent X-ray analysis by the Kyushu Historical Museum in Ogori, Fukuoka Prefecture, determined that the artifacts are actually lead glass.

The original color of the glass is believed to be green.

In Japan, glass ornaments were found only on the hold of a saddle unearthed at the site of the Fujinoki tomb, which was built in the late sixth century in Nara Prefecture.

About 200 items, including gilt bronze ornaments, have been found at the Funabaru tomb.